Aldosterone: Renal Action and Physiological Effects

Compr Physiol. 2023 Mar 30;13(2):4409-4491. doi: 10.1002/cphy.c190043.


Aldosterone exerts profound effects on renal and cardiovascular physiology. In the kidney, aldosterone acts to preserve electrolyte and acid-base balance in response to changes in dietary sodium (Na+ ) or potassium (K+ ) intake. These physiological actions, principally through activation of mineralocorticoid receptors (MRs), have important effects particularly in patients with renal and cardiovascular disease as demonstrated by multiple clinical trials. Multiple factors, be they genetic, humoral, dietary, or otherwise, can play a role in influencing the rate of aldosterone synthesis and secretion from the adrenal cortex. Normally, aldosterone secretion and action respond to dietary Na+ intake. In the kidney, the distal nephron and collecting duct are the main targets of aldosterone and MR action, which stimulates Na+ absorption in part via the epithelial Na+ channel (ENaC), the principal channel responsible for the fine-tuning of Na+ balance. Our understanding of the regulatory factors that allow aldosterone, via multiple signaling pathways, to function properly clearly implicates this hormone as central to many pathophysiological effects that become dysfunctional in disease states. Numerous pathologies that affect blood pressure (BP), electrolyte balance, and overall cardiovascular health are due to abnormal secretion of aldosterone, mutations in MR, ENaC, or effectors and modulators of their action. Study of the mechanisms of these pathologies has allowed researchers and clinicians to create novel dietary and pharmacological targets to improve human health. This article covers the regulation of aldosterone synthesis and secretion, receptors, effector molecules, and signaling pathways that modulate its action in the kidney. We also consider the role of aldosterone in disease and the benefit of mineralocorticoid antagonists. © 2023 American Physiological Society. Compr Physiol 13:4409-4491, 2023.

MeSH terms

  • Aldosterone* / metabolism
  • Aldosterone* / pharmacology
  • Blood Pressure
  • Humans
  • Kidney* / metabolism
  • Nephrons / metabolism
  • Sodium / metabolism


  • Aldosterone
  • Sodium